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Candaba stages first Ibon-Ebon Festival

Candaba stages first Ibon-Ebon Festival
By Ding Cervantes
Saturday, February 2, 2008

CANDABA, Pampanga – Noting a record high of 17,000 migratory birds of at least 49 species at the Candaba Swamp here, Candaba officials staged the town’s first Ibon-Ebon (Bird-Egg) Festival yesterday to honor the local patron saint, San Nicholas of Tolentino, boost food production, and promote ecotourism, with President Arroyo as special guest.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo looks on as
Mike Lu points out the bird photos
Candaba town saw participants clad in different bird costumes, as Mayor Jerry Pelayo kicked off the two-day festival at the town plaza.

“Based on last year’s bird records and the results of the Asian Waterbird Census this year, Candaba’s conservation efforts work. At the same time, Candaba’s food production, including duck eggs, continues to grow. It is time to celebrate,” Pelayo said.

He said the festival’s “message and intent is not only for Candaba but for the province and the rest of the country as well” as reflected in its theme, “A balance between the needs of the people and those of the environment.”

The festival’s logo depicts the wild Philippine duck, locally known as dumara, which Pelayo said is “endemic to the country and now successfully breeds in the Candaba Swamp.”

The logo shows the duck sitting on her egg on green grass “to symbolize a healthy relationship between nature conservation and food production,” festival organizers said.

“The results of the Asian Waterbird Census for 2008, the fourth to be conducted in Candaba, showed a four-year high of more than 17,000 birds comprising 49 species counted at the Candaba Swamp Wildlife Reserve,” Pelayo said.

The bird count was a joint effort of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, the Kaakbay Community Development Initiatives and the Candaba municipal government “with the special participation of Ambassador Robert Brinks of the Netherlands,” the mayor said.

Festive dance number by local community

Last year, Pelayo said Candaba set three new records. On Dec. 17, a rare migrant to the country, the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), was photographed by Romy Ocon, a known bird photographer, at the Candaba Swamp. It was the first sighting of the bird species at the swamp.

Three days later on Dec. 20, Ocon and representatives of the Candaba Swamp Wildlife Reserve photographed another rare migrant bird species, the White-shouldered Starling (Sturnus sinensis), which was seen only on six occasions before 1911, as recorded in the Kennedy Guide on Philippine Birds.

Then on Dec. 30, a “really rare” Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), was photographed by Tina and Wency Mallari at the swamp, reportedly the first such sighting in the country.

Pelayo said that while the feast of San Nicolas de Tolentino is on Sept. 10, the Ibon-Ebon Festival was held also to honor and thank him for the local booming poultry and egg industry.

“So far, there are no indications of bird flu in our town, and we thank our patron saint for that,” he said.

Slated today are a parade of the contestants for the best duck costume, street dancing, a duck race, a bird program and art contest, a bird kite exhibition, and a variety show.